Baxter is not gaining as much weight as we would hope to see by now (7 1/2 weeks post-rescue). He’s eating fairly well — pretty much all the hay he can eat until he wastes it — but he wastes a lot of his grain dumping it on the ground and refusing to eat it. I tried cutting out the beet pulp as I thought he didn’t like that, but he’s still wasting it so now we are cutting out the oil as well to try and figure out what he doesn’t like.
I finally became concerned when I again weight-taped him this weekend and depending on how I looked at it he had either stayed the same or even went down a notch. He is fuller through the belly/flank area but there is little to no improvement over his topline and you can still see a big gap between his butt cheeks. So I had the vet out and told her my concerns, and she agreed with the fact that his lack of more obvious weight gain was concerning. His respiration was also quite fast and his lungs sounded labored a bit, although he didn’t have any fluid in his lungs, no nasal discharge or any other signs of anything viral — no fever. And one good piece of news was the heart murmur was not evident. We took a blood draw on him and hopefully we should hear something back tomorrow. I am in the middle of doing a Panacur Power Pack on him — he’s already been wormed twice and his worm load was not excessive to begin with based on the fecal, but this should clear out any remaining parasites.
The other thing I am discovering about Baxter is that it is obvious he was in fact gelded not that long ago because he is very studdy towards my other horses — squealing and getting all worked up by the mares — and more shocking to me is his behavior towards my gelding Slam when he is in the paddock next to him with Vanna and Tara. He will rush the fence and charge him at him with teeth bared. Slam is used to being the dominant horse in every situation but he is usually a benevolent leader and he doesn’t know what to make of this. He is feeling the need to defend his mares so he’s been fighting back a bit over the fence. Baxter is probably going to have to be put in a more isolated area until he gets his hormones in check and settles down a bit. So there is no lack of energy despite the lack of condition!
Results on the bloodwork, I am getting her back ASAP to do the additional test mentioned:
On the CBC he has a mild lymphopenia which could be from stress or a viral infection and a mild anemia which is most likely from chronic inflammation. Overall that portion of the blood work looks ok. What I am concerned about the most is the elevated liver enzymes (GGT and SDH) on the chemistry screen. I would recommend adding on another test that will better tell us about his liver function, bile acids, that would be an extra $32. If the bile acids are elevated, we will know for sure that something is going on with Baxter’s liver.
The liver test came back normal, so that’s a relief, but we still don’t have a cause for the lack of weight gain. We are going to redo his bloodwork in a month but for now I am just trying to find some type of concentrate that he will eat — this morning I just gave him Senior — no alfalfa pellets, rice bran, or Cool Calories. I’ve already cut out the beet pulp and oil and he was still not eating it. He wasn’t this picky when he first came to us, he’s definitely gotten worse over time. Since he does eat hay I may put him on more alfalfa and see if that helps.